Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Holy Night"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 2:10-14 – And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased." (ESV)
As we approach the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem those many years ago, let us stop for a minute and look back at our past experiences of Christmas. Many of us have childhood memories of participating in Christmas pageants. Whether we were a wise man, a shepherd, an angel, or perhaps playing the parts of Mary and Joseph, those memories will always be with us.
Christmas Eve services have always been a time of celebration, but at times, the unexpected happens. One Christmas Eve, as worshippers gathered for the 11:00 p.m. service, they were advised to leave their vehicles running, as they would not likely restart when the service concluded. The temperature was -35°C (-31°F) that night. As we walked out of the church, the ice-cold air around the vehicles was lit up by the white exhaust and gave the feeling of new light in our midst.
Another Christmas Eve, the Sunday School put on a play. Part of it was behind a sheet with a light shining from the back so that all that the audience could see was shadows. The theme of the play was about how God replaces our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. Part of the play included heart transplant surgery, supposedly performed on me, the minister, with my part being played by a stuffed bear. Unexpectedly, for anesthetic, they knocked him out with a hammer! The point of the play was that God, Who came down in love at Christmas, fills our hearts with His love. After the surgery, it was revealed that Jesus was — and is — the surgeon. A doll, representing Jesus, was brought out from behind the sheet, from the shadows into the light. It was clear that Jesus offers everyone a new heart at Christmas.
Then, there was the night when the children were singing, and one girl, whose costume required that she wear a tea towel on her head, leaned over too close to a lighted candle, and unexpectedly, the towel caught on fire. Everyone's heart stopped! Fortunately, two volunteer firefighters were present and rushed to the front and put it out. She was unharmed. No one forgot that Christmas miracle.
Perhaps, as you are reading this, your own memories of unexpected Christmases past have come rushing into your mind. The sights, the sounds, and the feelings of Christmas are unforgettable moments that are part of who we are.
This Christmas, as we gather to worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us look for the unexpected. God might give you a new heart or a special memory to share with someone you love.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we celebrate Your birth once again, may You cause us to remember with gratitude that You are the Holy One from God Who has saved our souls. Amen.